YAM Notes: July/August 2023

By Alan C. Davidson, M.D.


Every so often everything comes together—the weather, the events, the food, and especially the friendships, some formed 69 years ago in front of Phelps Gate and then over the years—for an extraordinary 65th reunion with headquarters at Jonathan Edwards College. The commonality of experience at Yale, plus each of us following each other’s lives since graduation, allows us to pick up where we left off without hesitation or glitch. We did not hold a formal memorial for our departed friends, but they were included in every conversation we had and Battell Chapel’s service on Sunday included prayers for all alumni who have died.

One hundred classmates, guests, and widows attended and enjoyed our four-day reunion May 25–28. Please see the attendance list on our website, Yale1958.org. The names of our recent fallen are also posted there, including full obituaries. Due to space constraints, these will be published in the next issue of the alumni magazine.

On Friday morning, we bused over to Yale’s West Campus located on 136 acres in Orange and West Haven. It consists of 17 buildings containing state-of-the-art laboratories, storage space, a conference center, etc. purchased from Bayer Pharmaceuticals in 2008. The tour was hosted by Christopher Incarvito, associate provost for science initiatives, and Meghan Dahlmeyer, director of administration. During lunch, we heard from Mito Mardin, vice president, information and process management, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, US (retired). He told the history of why Bayer literally walked away from this billion-dollar-plus research campus, leaving the buildings with all their equipment, furniture, etc. to Yale for $109 million. It is quite a story.

In the afternoon, Alison Cole, senior associate dean for external affairs and special projects, discussed Yale’s interactions with the city of New Haven followed by a long conversation with Corinne Coia, community wellness specialist, and Lauren Moss-Racusin, college care clinician, about student mental health and the initiatives the university has taken to help ameliorate this crisis.

We then had a panel of our classmates consisting of Harvey Sloane, former mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, and former commissioner of health for the District of Columbia; Tim Hogen, former official in the CIA; Casey Bensinger, former director of the DEA and former Illinois commissioner of corrections; Oliver “Pudge” Henkel, naval officer, councilman, campaign manager for Gary Hart for President and chief external affairs officer of the Cleveland Clinic. Victor Kovner, former corporation counsel for NYC, moderated. They discussed their individual public service roles and why it is so important to get our youth involved and invested in public service.

Saturday afternoon was a blockbuster beginning with an update from US Congressman from Connecticut’s 4th District, Jim Himes, who is ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This was followed by Eric Winer, MD, Yale College 1978, Yale School of Medicine 1983, who is the director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Network. He discussed his humanistic approach to cancer and also where Yale’s research is going.

Of course, the event would not be complete without our own class Whiffenpoofs (with fill-ins for our deceased members) poignantly “serenading us while life and voice shall last, Then we’ll pass and be forgotten with the rest.”

Sunday morning, we broke camp after breakfast, but not before discussing the possibilities of a minireunion in the near future.

I would like to thank our reunion committee: Casey Bensinger, Sherman Bull, Alan Davidson, Tim Hogen, Victor Kovner, Bob Morgan, Steve Riker, Harvey Sloane, and David Waterbury, for their outstanding efforts in bringing our class together for this wonderful symposium. And also thank Jeannie Daniel of the Yale Alumni Association for helping us coordinate our program.